AltaVista Search Engine’s 25th anniversary

AltaVista Internet Search Engine

It has been 25 years since AltaVista, one of the first major Internet search engines, was made public. AltaVista was launched on September 15, 1995, by Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC). DEC’s search engine aimed to show how powerful their new line of computers was. DEC was the leading supplier of computer hardware, software and services by then.

AltaVista Web Search Engine

AltaVista was the first search engine to allow natural language queries on the World Wide Web. Besides, it stood out for providing a very simple interface; while offering a degree of depth that most search engines didn’t at that time.

AltaVista was initially composed of two hard disks in two servers — Scooter and Turbo Vista. On the one hand, Scooter had a 20 GB hard drive and 1 GB of RAM. It was responsible for crawling the World Wide Web. On the other hand, Turbo Vista had a 250 GB hard drive and 2 GB of RAM. It stored Scooter’s findings and served them up to users. These servers are tiny compared to the current, high-performance servers we are used to nowadays. But, by that time, the WWW was considerably smaller than today’s.

AltaVista’s success is reflected in its constant traffic growth. It went from about 300,000 queries at the time of its launch to millions of queries one year after. It actually ranked until 2000 with Google and Yahoo. However, nobody at DEC thought of AltaVista as a business and, by 2001, Google surpassed it with its innovative system. Yahoo purchased AltaVista in 2003 (when purchasing Overture Services) and shut altavista.com down on July 8, 2013.

Nevertheless, AltaVista will always be part of the Internet’s history, as other early search engines such as Archie. Since it was one of the first major web search engines, which made searching information on the Internet easier for regular users.

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